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City Council to consider closure of Sims plant Monday

Alexander Sinn • Nov 17, 2018 at 12:00 PM

The Grand Haven City Council on Monday night will consider the closure of the Sims power plant.

The resolution under consideration would authorize the Board of Light & Power to decommission the coal-burning plant on Harbor Island by June 2020, on the condition that the municipal utility will by June 2023 be capable of generating a majority of local electricity within the service area.

The resolution also requires that future BLP facilities include capacity to partner in the support of the city’s downtown snowmelt system.

This resolution is a change from a version that was on the table at the City Council’s Nov. 5 meeting, which stated that if a majority of local energy generation could not be guaranteed by the BLP by February 2019, steps would be immediately taken to keep the Sims plant in operation.

Councilmen Josh Brugger and Bob Monetza argued against the motion, with Councilman Michael Fritz agreeing to postpone the vote until a series of public forums, held throughout the week, had concluded.

The BLP hosted the forums to gather public input for a plan for future energy generation, to be finalized in December, and initial plans were presented to the City Council on Thursday. 

The directive from the city aligns with the BLP’s plan, which entails providing half the utility’s energy capacity locally through a 36-megawatt gas engine located on Harbor Island, but with a majority of energy purchases made through the wholesale energy market.

The gas engine could be run when it is the cost-effective option to do so, according to BLP officials, but wholesale market purchases, including contracts in renewable resources, will often be the economical source of power.

Purchasing off the grid does not diminish service reliability, BLP officials noted during the community forums.

The city snowmelt system will likely be decoupled from the BLP’s power plan, but the utility will continue to provide power for the system. 

Monday’s council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at Grand Haven City Hall, 519 Washington Ave.

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